Risks associated with plants obtained from ‘new genetic engineering’ are more complex than assumed

27. October 2023

27 October 2023 / A new publication in the science journal ‘Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology’ comprehensively reviews unintended genetic changes in plants caused by new genetic engineering processes (or new genomic techniques, NGT). The study shows that the risks associated with NGT plants are frequently underestimated.

According to data presented in the above publication, the processes of NGT can cause unintended genetic changes that would not be expected to occur with conventional breeding. In addition, the associated effects, such as the production of new proteins, the insertion of genetic material from other species or the disruption of important gene functions, therefore, can differ significantly from conventional breeding outcomes.

In contrast, a working group of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and Leopoldina just recently came to the conclusion that NGT plants would not pose any specific risks in comparison to conventionally-bred plants. Furthermore, the EU Commission recently put forward a legislative proposal to exempt the majority of NGT plants from current from mandatory risk assessment.

The authors of the recent publication disagree with such assumptions. They conclude that the risks of the unintended genetic changes need to be assessed case-by-case before any statements can be made in regard to the safety of NGT plants. The study was produced as part of current research being carried out by the ‘Project Genetic Engineering and the Environment’ (FGU); the research is focused on the impact of genetically engineered organisms from the perspective of the protection goals, such as health and the environment.

Christoph Then, info@testbiotech.org, Tel + 49 151 54638040

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